Bare Bones Biology 111 – Ritual II

What we all require from our rituals is guidance about “what we should do and what we should not do.” (As Thich Nhat Hanh says in Touching Peace)

We need to understand who we are and how to fit our lives into the big Life without causing harm to ourselves or to it. At the Peach Clubhouse we will have a copy of Joanna Macy’s very fine talk at The Economics of Happiness conference. She started out saying “We are really blessed by the straight talk here.” That got my attention. Or keep watching all the good talks at where it will eventually be posted.

Understanding how to fit our lives into the big Life without causing harm is a complicated task for which well-tested knowledge and positive rituals will help us a great deal more than any other kind of power. We are not more powerful than the big Life that is all life, and our attempts to provide for ourselves by destroying that Life will fail because our modern corposystem rituals are built in the sand of denial and based on the myth of omnipotence.

Ritual is a method of communication within and between populations. If the conditions are right, the rituals of a culture evolve with the needs of the culture. In our so-called modern cultures we have so many unmet needs, and so many ritualistic heritages, that they tend to be confused and misused by intent or by ignorance. That does not mean that rituals are wrong. If your language means nothing to me, then your rituals probably will also not inform me very well because there is no way for me to understand our common roots. That does not mean that you are fundamentally different from me or that your new discoveries are new to me. Yes, you have rituals that are special to you. We all do. Some of these are more useful than others. All of them can be misused.

So let’s not permit our favored rituals to lead us away from our deep reverence for the Source of everything that we need to stay alive and well. You’ve been studying your discipline for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years. I can top that, but why bother? At the root of the Source there is no metaphor, but only pure reality that cannot be denied, no matter how powerful our technology – no matter how bright we are.

Let’s stop growing cultures of denial in which the positive rituals of others cannot bear fruit: a) because we are not listening, so we don’t understand; or b) because we believe our own way is “special.” Maybe our way is not so very different, only we have different rituals and metaphors for the same old human problems. Maybe there are some better answers than what we know today.

Let’s not continue to ritualize our fears into the aggressive or passive-aggressive expressions of the need to win, or to be “right,” or to know more than others about how we proceed to the next evolutionary step in our human lives. We do not know how the earth will evolve. Evolution has way too many variables for us to predict. But we do have something previous generations did not have. In addition to the ritual warnings, we also have fact-based warnings about what we should not do as humans who love life.

For only one example, NASA Director James Hansen and other climatologists predicted climate change more than 50 years ago, based on over-growth of human technologies and population. We weren’t listening. That was a mistake.

If we choose to study only one source or sort of information about what we should do — or not do – our work tends to cancel the efforts of the other at a time when we could be doubling our impact by listening to authoritative sources of both sorts of information .

When I was involuntarily working for women’s liberation, I had no vision or image of women learning to be more powerful than they already were. I imagined women and men growing the rituals for our sustainable future, based in the subtler, more effective “Powers of the Weak” so that we together could grow a subtler, more effective more enduring and sustainable culture for human kind.

Maybe I succeeded and it took a couple of generations. Maybe that is what’s happening now. If so, I wish we would call it for what it is and work it for its full potential so that fully informed people of various traditions, rather than always trying to “teach” the other, are willing to listen hard and well together, and together discuss viable solutions.

For that to succeed, we must include valid scientific data in all our deliberations. Good basic biological science (not technology but holistic science) tells us a lot about what we should not try to do. Actually, so do most of the technologies we are using in our fatal effort to subdue the earth.

Bare Bones Biology 111 – Ritual II
KEOS 98.1 FM
The audio podcast can be downloaded here
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Recommended References
Thich Nhat Hahn –
Elizabeth Janeway – Powers of the Weak
Joanna Macy –
James Hansen –
Paul Woodruff – Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue

Bare Bones Biology 109 – Communication

In the past two Bare Bones Biologies, that’s 107 and 108, we tackled one of the most complex of human topics, communication. There are people who specialize in this area, and I probably should consult such an expert, because I confuses me. We so seldom use communication to communicate our reality, and then we have to translate, or guess, what people mean by what they say, and I’m not a good guesser. I finally did figure out the reason people don’t listen to what I say – that’s one of my biggest complaints – is because they’re listening instead to what they would have meant if they had said it.

This is not necessary by the way. If we did understand each other it would eliminate a lot of confusion, and it would only require asking a few questions. But now I find a generation or two of people who are offended by questions, because they equate questioning their meaning with – “dissing” them. (To diss = to disrespect.)

I can understand this, because so many people in our culture are addicted to – or afraid of – power. So we often use words as we would money, or expertise, or machismo or whatever we have at hand to reinforce our own sense of dominance or of defence. The result is not very useful.

I remember a time when expertise was envisioned as useful, not because it gave us an individual edge in a world of fearful competition, but because our individual expertise, whatever it is, can be used to contribute to the welfare of the community. There still exist communities, and some new ones growing, in which each person within the community supports the efforts of the other (even if by support we mean pointing out the flaws so together we can grow a better effort).

Every effort has value, and the values among the many can be discussed. They have worth. None is perfect and none is expected to be perfect. But all together, if the information is made available for solving problems, the community is in a position to deal with the real problems as a group, and so the community has more power than the individual to build a better future for the whole.

Generally, in our culture, we tend to view these communities a primitive, but let’s face it, primitive peoples lived sustainably for thousands of years until we came along with the so-called advanced cultures that are not sustainable within the factual reality of the earth ecosystem. Loving the ecosystem will not change this fact. Neither will technology. Until the spiritualists and the technologists are willing to learn about limiting factors, our advanced human cultures are on a fast track to destruction. Because we do have responsibilities to the earth itself, and unless we know what they are, and fulfill them, well, then our spiritual and technological good intentions are, and I quote St Bernard of Clairveux: “the road to hell, paved with good intentions.”

In a society of competition, where everyone is afraid of everyone else, we cannot use our expertise compassionately to benefit the whole, because the whole is composed of other people, most of whom are more concerned with their own physical or emotional survival.

The result is useless and fruitless power struggles rather than a compassionate intention to address real problems. And in a society where people are hooked on feeling good, or aspiring to feel good, there can be very little compassion, because in a crisis situation, compassion most often does not feel good. Doing what’s best to benefit the whole, often does not feel good. But that is what compassion is – doing what is best for the long-term interests of the other and the whole.

When a solution to a problem is well documented in fact, then it is the responsibility of compassion to study these facts and use them to promote the overall welfare, that is the least suffering, of the whole. For that, we must learn to listen and to discuss. Without listening and discussion of the impact of the facts on all the levels of life, from the individual through the ecosystem, there can be no deep, sustainable, compassion.

Bare Bones Biology 108 – Communication
KEOS 89.1 FM
This program can be downloaded here
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Owl photo taken in New Mexico at
Discussion photo taken in California at the conference of:

Why People Don’t Understand (whatever it is that they don’t understand) – Part One

1. They don’t want to-

2. They are too busy talking about themselves.

3. They don’t listen. We change words into something that we want to hear. Or anything that is inside the acceptable mantra. My entire life goal is to not be inside the acceptable mantra unless being inside would be more compassionate and useful than being outside (which is rare). But often what I say is not heard because statements that are outside the acceptable mantra get changed into something that is acceptable, without people even knowing they are doing it – inside the mantra, they sound like nonsense. For example, the below:

The tragedy is that the acceptable mantra is most often the nonsense – that’s why the corposystem wants us to believe it. So they can keep all the real facts to themselves to make money with, and we don’t have real facts to challenge them with. Because there is nothing more powerful than real facts in a real biological world. And we can’t get out of the real biological world. In this life.

4. They are afraid. I have not yet figured out what they are afraid of – probably a whole pile of things including each other, because our corposystem works hard at making everyone afraid of something, but minimally there is no doubt that most people in this community are afraid of asking questions, and nobody can understand anything without asking questions.

Bare Bones Biology 073 – Good Information/Good Common Sense

Every normal person cares about the future, and we also know we need solid facts to build a solid future for people on this earth. There is no way that self-serving propaganda can build a viable, sustainable future, and it’s still possible to find good factual information if we try. Several fact-based information programs are available on our local, un-afilliated radio stations. And we can still find honest facts on the internet. Step one, of course, is to make sure these really are facts by following up the references. And then we need to use our good common sense when we use our information.

Today I found an example on the internet of two people responding in different ways to an obvious fact. I copied them into my blog as they were written, partly to show you that we do NOT need to be highly skilled in the intellectual arts to have and to use our good common sense.

The fact is we are in a drought. The reactions of the two people, first:

“I live in Texas; right noe, we are PRAYING that tropical storms head our way; dsperately NEED the moisture they are picking up in this area; once we get the rain cycle sarted, we will be doing better; so lets NOT gripe about the storms coming in, prya that we DO get them in this area!”

And here is the answer:
“how about no. NO storms for the gulf at all. Last thing this economy needs is higher oil and gas prices because of stupid speculation of a storm or hurricane threatening a oil rig shutdown. “
So he wants lower oil and gas prices. Let’s forget about whether or not storms in the gulf raise the price of oil and gas. I doubt if they do. But I’m pretty sure a shortage of corn would, because about 10% of gasoline is now alcohol made from corn, and we do grow quite a lot of corn, or we did before this year. So a little storm in the gulf might help lower the price of corn.

And our food that we eat comes from supermarkets, right? To where it is shipped in a zillion trucks and airplanes from somewhere else, mostly using diesel and mostly not necessary because we can grow food right here in the Brazos Valley – or we could before the drought, so the price of food goes up.

And hay for the animals comes from the feed store. But, in the drought our local farmers can’t grow enough. So then the cattle breeders stop producing calves when there is no food for them to eat. Again the price of food goes up.

And then, where is the water to fill up the water wells and farm ponds and aquifers? Can we open a spigot and it pours out from – where? The price of water will go up – and worse as we start scraping the bottoms of those aquifers. It’s already pretty expensive, way too expensive to water a cornfield or fill up a farm pond that can’t take care of itself. The price of water goes up.

Then what happens to the wild life? Let’s take bees for example. Bees and wasps and all those bugs are always buzzing around my place, but I haven’t seen them this year. Not even flies. And this year for the first time my property produced no fruits – no wild plums or grapes. Normally I have enough wild plums to last for two years. This year – lots of flowers but no bees to pollinate them and not one fruit.

It’s way past time we wake up to the fact that the healthy earth provides our clean water, our normal weather patterns, our breathable air, and soil to grow our food. The gas and oil will run out anyhow in whatever future we plan, and our economy will not recover, because it is based in Ponzi economics. But – unless we mess it up so badly that it can no longer function as it has done for us, the good green earth will still be making our air, water, weather patterns and soil.

Without those, I’m not much worried about the price of gas.

Bare Bones Biology 072 – More Corposystem Games – FactFictionFancy
KEOS radio 89.1 FM, Bryan, Texas
Transcript at
Audio later this week at


de·moc·ra·cy n

“the control of an organization by its members, who have a free and equal right to participate in decision-making processes.” (Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.)

If Mr. Flores would ask me to help prevent someone (anyone) from expressing his point of view in a “democratic” meeting, I would wonder what Mr. Flores was trying to hide. If Mr. Flores then pointed out several times that the police were there to keep order — and he posted a couple of bouncers near the person who wanted to speak (you can see their bottom halves in the second photo) – I would make a big effort to find out why Mr. Flores didn’t want this person to express his opinion. Knowledgeable honorable people who are looking for solutions to real problems – such people are not afraid of ideas.

What is a Town Hall Meeting?

“A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting which gives the members of a community an opportunity to get together to discuss emerging issues and to voice concerns and preferences for their community.”

Mr. Flores meeting, of course, was not a Town Hall Meeting. When a person talks for a couple of hours without discussing, that is not a town hall meeting.

“dis·cus·sion n
Talk or a talk between two or more people about a subject.”

When we the people go to a town hall meeting, we expect a discussion. What can we do in a supposedly democracy in a fake town hall meeting when we are not permitted to have a real discussion?

According to a recent publication of the TEA party: “I understand that the local and Brazos Progressives will be out in force preaching more class warfare.” It sounds to me like the TEA party leadership also does not want a discussion.

I can’t speak for the MoveOn Leadership in DC, because I walked out on about their fourth sentence, because up to then nearly every sentence contained the word “fight” two or three times. Well, yes – if you want to end up in a fight, then you should fight. However, fighting will only make our problems worse.

We have very serious problems that are out of control, and the only way to control them is to deal with their causes. Beating up on someone else (passive-aggressive or overt aggressive) never solved any real problem over the long term. Beating up on other people only makes more enemies. I think Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Buddha all agree on this point, and I believe they have accomplished more that is worth accomplishing than almost anyone else I know about. Winning doesn’t solve problems. It’s fun, but it only makes more enemies. If we really want to solve problems more than we want to have fun – well, our behavior labels us. Clearly we don’t.

And anyway, there is no way to win ourselves out of this particular problem in which we find ourselves. There is no way to solve it with fake town hall meetings that concentrate on economics in a fake democracy that does everything in it’s power to prevent us from understanding really what our problem is. So that we could actually get together and solve it. So, the meeting was all about economics, but – I’m not an economist, so here is the definition of economics.

“ec·o·nom·ics n
1. the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services (takes a singular verb)”

So – economics studies the relationship between supply and demand. Nobody talked about that in the town hall meeting, even though the root cause of our very big problem is the relationship between supply (from this good green earth) of everything we need to stay alive — and demand (by humans).

The real problem is that we are running low on supply and our so-called economics is trying to solve that problem by selling more stuff. And borrowing money. Neither of which will solve the problem of a limited supply. Does it make sense to try to produce more when there are fewer resources? Not even to an economist, but if we only had those two choices in a condition of low supply – well, I wouldn’t do either of those solutions, I would tell the people what is the real root problem and ask them to help solve it. But as that solution seems not to be on the table, surely borrowing money can’t be nearly as toxic as trying to make more stuff when we are running a bit low on resources.

Even I know that outflows are only one side of the economics problem. And inflows do not come from people. They come from the green mother earth. If we want to try to fix our very big problem we can’t do it by focusing only on the outflows. We will have to think, talk and share ideas about the inflows, where they come from, and how we plan to get enough without destroying the green mother earth that produces them.

God made the world as he made it. God did not make supermarkets. He made the earth to be fruitful with carrots and potatoes and corn and wheat and apples. He did not make economics. He told us to be honest and kind and compassionate. He did not suggest that we use trickery and chicanery to get what we want by causing harm to others.

I say to MoveOn and the progressives and the TEA party that you are all fighting over ephemera, and if you don’t start looking for real, factual information about how God did make this world to operate – then you will all lose. And so will I.

I say to MoveOn and the Progressives and the TEA party, and especially Mr. Flores, you are all wrong when you fight over some “democracy” that is dead and gone and never was like you say it was. You should be working together to learn the real facts about how this good green earth nurtures and feeds us – learn where our real supplies really come from and how — so that you all can help to build a more bountiful life style for the future. Instead of just having a fun game of king of the hill.

If Mr. Flores were to ask me to help make sure that someone doesn’t have a chance to talk – that his ideas should not be heard, I would wonder what Mr. Flores is trying to hide. Here’s my first guess. I guess he’s afraid we folks in the audience will figure out how much he does NOT know about our world and our country and even our economy. And how much he does NOT know about what is needed to make our country honorable and fruitful once again.

So I think it would be better to ask. That guy who didn’t get to talk might have had a good idea.

My Father Said

“Your freedom ends where the next fellow’s freedom begins.”

This turns out to be a very complicated issue, but it’s well worth spending a lifetime trying. I have been.

“Speak so you can’t possibly be misunderstood.”

I tried for about half a lifetime until I realized communication requires two (at least) and when people decide what I meant before I said it — the task is impossible. So I stopped worrying about what other people said that I said that I meant, and just stuck to checking definitions (both mine and other people’s definitions of the same words) often and diligently. And then we all get mad. Me because they aren’t trying to understand what I really said, and they because they think I’m arguing with what they thought I should have meant by what i said.